It was an end of an era for Reverend Canon Ruth Gill recently after her official retirement from the Shinrone Group of Parishes on Wednesday, August 7 last.
To mark the occasion of her retirement, a celebration was held in Aghancon Community Hall on Tuesday, July 30. MC for the evening, Ray Dempsey opened the event by extending a very warm welcome to everyone, particularly to Canon Ruth's family, her husband George, her son John, his wife Edel and their children. Canon Ruth's daughter June sent her best wishes as she was unavoidably absent.
The evening's speakers included Alan Algeo, on behalf of the parish readers in the Shinrone Group of Parishes, Fr Kieran Blake, PP Kilcolman, Coolderry and Ballybritt, both of whom gave their thanks to Canon Ruth for her friendship and support as they worked together in the local community.
Ordained as a deacon in St Flannan's Cathedral, Killaloe on Sunday, June 27, 2004, Canon Ruth won many friends over the years with her mild and compassionate manner and many of these joined her and her family at the celebratory function along with representatives of a plethora of local groups, based in the south Offaly area. Groups represented on the night included the Shinrone Heritage group, the South Offaly Ploughing committee and others..
Canon Ruth's father was a clergy man and they moved around quite a lot. However, eventually her family settled back towards Dublin where she worked before she met her husband George, who was from outside Ballyboy. And, it was here the pair settled on their farm and raised their children, John and June.
Ruth then became involved in the Church in Birr and things, she explained “went from there.” Ordained a deacon in 2004, Canon Ruth began her work with the Church. Thinking back over her last three years with the Shinrone group of parishes, the Reverend explained the Bishop initially had the idea she would go into the group of parishes and organise the services and now, she's “absolutely delighted” to be leaving things in very capable hands.
Retiring officially on August 7 last, Canon Ruth took over the Shinrone group of parishes on August 7 2016, having ministered in Cloughjordan and previously a short stint in Banagher before the vacancy came up in Shinrone.
Canon Ruth told the 'Tribune' some of the many highlights of her time working in the Shinrone group included the amount of families getting involved in organising services, the “fantastic” Christmas Carol Service in which the children were involved in, the recent confirmation service in Aghancon in June. “That was lovely and the children were great. There was a great atmosphere.”
According to the Canon, another memorable event was the commemorative service, organised last November, to mark the 100th anniversary of the conclusion of WW1, which was some of the “great work” carried out by the Shinrone Heritage group. There's also the Harvest and Christmas services, which are other memorable events in the Church's calendar for the Canon.
She also complimented the great work done by many local groups such as the South Ploughing committee, the 'Blackbull Threshing festival', which raised money for local community projects and the many other fantastic groups and individuals she had the pleasure of working with over the years. However, her lasting memory of her work will be the “people of the parish. They were so easy to work with and very active,” she enthused.
Talking about the recent celebratory evening to mark her retirement, Canon Ruth admitted it was an “emotional” night. “It was a great night. It was a coming together of the four parishes and other local organisations,” she explained.
Looking to her forthcoming retirement, Canon Ruth was looking forward to taking a break with her husband, George. “I have to really thank my husband, George and my son John for all of their love and support. They have kept me going.” She even joked she wasn't much of a gardener but she did hope to “get out into the garden a bit more”, following her retirement. “Whether it's to sit out there or work out there, I am not sure yet, which one,” she laughed
Continuing, Canon Ruth said “you do forget how busy it was and you tend to just remember the wonderful people I have met”. Looking forward to what might come next, Canon Ruth sincerely thanked everyone for all of the support and friendship over the years and wished them all the very best into the future.